Rugby League: Betts out of Test series as Brisbane win a classic

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The Independent Online
Brisbane 22 Auckland 16

The Auckland Warriors could not hold Brisbane for the full 80 minutes of a compelling semi-final of the Visa World Club Championship - but the biggest losers were Great Britain.

The Auckland second row Denis Betts, one of Britain's few truly world- class players, tore a shoulder muscle in the first half at ANZ Stadium and ruled himself out of next month's Test series against Australia.

"I'll be having an operation next week," he said "and it could be a five or six-month job, the doctor says."

That is appalling news for Great Britain, especially taken in the context of an unforgettable match.

Auckland played a full part in what must be one of the most gripping games ever played and they led through an early try from Shane Endacott but then took a fearful battering.

Ben Walker played an important role in Brisbane's triumph, starting with an opportunist try from his own kick, which he converted.

Gordon Tallis wrestled his way through for a second try and it looked as though Brisbane might gallop clear, but Auckland hit back with a counter- attack, begun by Lee Oudenryn behind his own line and finished by him, five tackles later, when he leapt to catch Gene Ngamu's kick and touch down.

Matthew Ridge's conversion levelled the scores and the Warriors went ahead five minutes after the restart, with Oudenryn again taking a high kick, this time from Stacey Jones.

Mistakes started to creep into Auckland's play and in the space of four minutes Kevin Walters got over for one try and then set Walker up for another.

The quality of the spectacle, though, will be of little consolation to Auckland, Betts or Britain.

Brisbane: Lockyer; Devere, Smith, Renouf, Sailor; Walters, Walker; Webcke, Plath, Gee, Thorn, Tallis, Ryan. Substitutes used: Hancock, Carroll, Lee.

Auckland: Ridge; Hoppe, A Swann, Endacott, Oudenryn; Jones, Ngamu; Malam, Eru, Vagana, Kearney, Betts, L Swann. Substitutes used: Ellis, Horo, Guttenbeil, Tuimavave.

Referee: G Annesley (Sydney).

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